OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens made their second trade for a starting receiver in as many years by acquiring speedster Lee Evans from the Buffalo Bills. The Ravens believe they finally have their deep threat to complement possession receiver Anquan Boldin.
ESPN.com’s AFC North blog recently caught up with Evans in training camp to get his thoughts on his new team, his old team and early impressions of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
Lee, where were you when you first got word that you were traded to Baltimore?
Lee Evans: Well, I had an inclination of a couple teams it could possibly be. But I didn’t know exactly where. I was driving back to Buffalo. I was on [Interstate] 90 heading back to drop myself off and head to the team plane. I was just on the road traveling and got a phone call from Buddy Nix, the Bills’ GM. He just said, “Lee, we traded you to Baltimore.” That was kind of how it went.
How did you handle all the speculation leading up to the trade?
Evans: I just still tried to prepare myself. Rumors are a part of the game. That’s how it is. So, regardless of what happened, I wanted to keep preparing and keep playing. That was my mentality. So I just let the cards fall how they may.
What differences have you noticed with Cam Cameron’s offense in Baltimore and Chan Gailey’s offense in Buffalo?
Evans: It’s a completely different offense. The system is different and the way they word it, the terminology. Football has a lot of the same concepts, it’s just different ways to get there. There is a difference. I’ve run a similar type of offense before. So I have some familiarity with it. But it still takes a little bit of time, a little bit of an adjustment.
What about your role in Baltimore. Has that changed compared to Buffalo or remained the same?
Evans: It’s hard to say. I don’t know exactly what my role was when Chan and those guys came in. Obviously, my biggest attribute is speed and being a downfield threat. That’s kind of how [Baltimore] wants to use me, and I think that’s why they brought me here. If you look at Anquan Boldin, he can do everything over the middle. And I think they want me to be able to stretch the field vertically.
How will you reflect on your time in Buffalo?
Evans: I think it was a great learning experience. I was able to meet a lot of great people and be around a lot of great coaches. Ralph Wilson is a great owner. He was one of the original owners and he was the only owner there. Being able to be around him has been fantastic. I think my time in Buffalo was great and I loved it. But right now I’m looking forward to moving on.
The expectations in Baltimore are very high. What’s it like joining a team aiming for the Super Bowl?
Evans: It comes with a lot of expectations and I have a lot of high expectations for myself. I feel like I have to earn the right to be here, and you do that by making plays on the field. So I will come in and work as hard as a can and do whatever I can to be successful here. This is a different team, a different culture, a different everything. It’s a heavy veteran group with guys that have been around. So I’m just trying to buy into the culture and make plays when I get a chance.
How much time will it take to get in synch with quarterback Joe Flacco?
Evans: It will take a little time. We have games in the preseason. And once we start detailing and going into the regular season, I think we will be fine and we will get better as the year goes along. It’s just one of those things where everything is new right now. It’s new for me and my mind is working 100 miles an hour just trying to play the game. Once I get a good understanding of what’s going on, the chemistry will probably be easier. He has a strong arm and can let it go. We just need to tighten some things up.
What’s your overall impressions of Flacco?
Evans: He’s as good as I’ve been around. He compares to Drew Bledsoe. He’s that type of pocket passer. He’s big, has a strong arm and a great pocket presence. So it’s great. He gets the ball out quick, and it’s accurate and it’s a tight spiral. Obviously, he’s the leader of our offense.
Are you switching to No. 83 with TE Ed Dickson or keeping No. 85?
Evans: Yeah, I’m going to switch it. We will have it ironed out soon.
Did you have to pay Dickson?
Evans: Nah, that wasn’t the premise of it. It was a mutual respect thing. So it’s good.
Looking ahead to Week 1, what do you know about the Steelers-Ravens rivalry?
Evans: From the outside looking in, it’s one of the best rivalries going right now. It’s always AFC North football. It’s tough, it’s a grind-it-out game, and it’s a dogfight every time. I grew up with that type of football [in Cleveland]. It will be a lot of fun playing in those games, and it’s always fun to win those games. It’s going to be a tough game. Both teams know each other inside and out. So it’s about making plays and finding out ways to win.